Monday, September 21, 2009

An Environmentally Responsible Vacation to Martha’s Vineyard

Last week Matt, our friends, their twin one year old boys and myself all headed out for seven days of off season fun on Martha’s Vineyard. We have vacationed there multiple times over the years but I had not paid as close attention to the eco efforts of the island residents prior to this year. What I discovered is that the island has a committed approach to being a more ecological vacation destination.

The entire island is committed to recycling and the blue bins are picked up weekly. This impressed me as I live just outside of Boston, a fairly sizeable metropolis, and my bin is only picked up twice a month!

As we traveled between our vacation rental house and the beach I could not help but notice the abundance of public transit busses island wide. The busses are available to all through the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority. There are thirteen routes which provide rides from both ferry docks (Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs) as well as the airport.

Each trip is only $1 or full day unlimited passes are only $7, 3 days for $15, 7 days for $25 or 31 days for $40. Children under six are free and those over 65 are half price. There is accessibility for the disabled (half price), as well as those riding bikes or who have pets or luggage with them. The coolest thing is that in addition to designated stops busses can be hailed anywhere along their route and will stop if it is safe to do so.

One of the most exciting things about MV is the protected areas on, around or near the many island beaches. Matt and I took a random drive one afternoon and stumbled upon the Cedar Tree Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in West Tisbury maintained by the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. The Sanctuary is 216 protected acres of wooded land and pristine beach residing on the Vineyard Sound.

The trails are no more than a half mile each way but once we hit the beach it was like we discovered an entirely new world! Sunbathing, swimming and picnicking are not permitted on the beach so almost nothing is disturbed. The first day of our trip there we discovered a few plastic bottles that had washed ashore which of course we carried out. On our second day we went a different direction on the beach only to discover a large bin placed by the caretaker meant to collect these items.

One of the main reasons so much land on Martha’s Vineyard is so well protected and cared for is due to The Trustees of Reservations organization. A not for profit group they are committed to historic and land use preservation of over 100 properties across Massachusetts, at least six of which are on MV.

After spending the past few years enjoying the beaches at Long Point Wildlife Refuge and then experiencing the beauty of Wasque, Mytoi and Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge this year Matt and I have decided to take full advantage of all the Trustees offer by joining the organization this fall.

Access to the island is limited to passenger ferries which run on somewhat limited schedules, private boat and airplane shuttles which originate from only 5 airports in southeastern Massachusetts. Limiting access also helps to keep environmental impact low.

Next year I would love to give public transportation a try and with a Trustees membership in hand, get back out to take advantage of exploring the very thing I am working every day to try to help protect; the vast natural landscape of this amazing island get away!

1 comment:

Matt S said...

Another environmental agency on The Vineyard is the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank, which asseses a 2% tax on certain Real Estate transactions on the island, and uses the funds to purchase sensitive properties and conserve them. They already own 67 parcels, and are always purchasing more. They have a wesite at